How to Save Money On Eating-Out

As I prepare for my “Live like you are miserably poor” challenge aka The Spending Fast I am using this time to prepare and take a good hard look at my spending habits. Last night I went out to a restaurant with a friend and I ordered a drink (red bull and vodka..my fav) and whatever I felt like on the menu without regard to cost. I just choose based on what I am in the mood for, and I ALWAYS do this. Even if I don’t order an adult beverage, I usually get a soda (usually a nice 2.50 a pop) or when I’m feeling frisky, a dessert or appetizer.

On my spending fast I’m not supposed to be spending money on eating out at all, but what about after? I am not making the big-time NYC dollars anymore, and I need to figure out a way to cut back on my lifestyle. Doing this might be easier than I had originally thought.

How much money could I potentially save in a month if I did not order alcohol with dinner?

ON AVERAGE: I eat out about 4-5 times a week, probably only get a drink about half of the time.

7.00 (for the average alcoholic beverage) x 2.5 x 4weeks in a month= 70.00 per month.

Generally when I go out I spend about 12-17 dollars on my entree, maybe more if I get dessert. Lets say I will set a goal to not order any meal over 10.00 or get dessert (wah.)

Savings of 5.00 per meal x 4 (average times out per week) x 4 weeks in a month= 80.00 per month.

So if I didn’t order beverages and kept my entrees 10 dollars or less I could potentially save 150 dollars per month? That’s about half of what my “eating out” budget was in New York (which varied between 300-350 each month, and my old company used to cover my lunch!). Daaaaaaaamn! Also-if I wasn’t planning on saving that money I could go out to eat or to a movie with friends more often. Why didn’t I think of this before?!

What are some of the things you do to save money on eating out? Because lets face it, cooking every.single.meal at home is almost unheard of

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4 thoughts on “How to Save Money On Eating-Out

  1. I have a friend who did something similar to this, except a lot more extreme. He goes out to eat just as often as you (4-5 nights a week) and loves the social aspects of going out with his friends (a lot of the outings were for trivia and such), but hated the amount of money he was spending… So he challenged himself to spend less than $100 in a YEAR eating in restaurants. He started himself off slow, saying he would still go out to eat with friends as often as he wanted, but he would only order something once a week, and he’d keep his bill under $15. Usually that’s a beer and an appetizer. When he had done that 4 times (the first month) and he was already up to $60, he cut himself off completely. He still goes out with us, but he doesn’t order. Occasionally he’ll have a beer or something, but he hasn’t ordered food in 10 months. That’s not to say he doesn’t eat, because a lot of restaurants offer chips or bread, some sort of precursor to a meal… Plus, we all offer bites of our entrees, or instead of taking a to-go box (which gets thrown out 75% of the time), we just give the rest to him.

    When I tell this story, it makes him sound like a moocher… But he never asks for anything, and it constantly surprises me how often our friends will offer to share a meal with him, or willingly save some of their dinner for him. Everyone in our little group respects what he’s doing. He said it’s saving him close to $200 a month, and although he realizes that he didn’t have to completely cut it out and could probably enjoy himself more if he’d just set a limit (like you did, $15), he just can’t argue with the savings. Obviously it’s not for everyone, and I’m not saying you should do this, but I just thought it was an interesting experiment, both personal and social.

    Personally, I’ve found that in addition to setting a limit for restaurant meals, it also helps to set at least one day a week where you’ll eat at your own house, no matter what. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a home-cooked meal… I buy a loaf of bread every couple of weeks at the grocery store, and a lot of times, my “one meal in” will just be a sandwich or something. It helps a lot, and it’s a one-day-per-week reminder that I’m saving money.

    • I commend your friend and am envious of the 2400.00 or so he’s probably saving a year! I don’t know if I’ll be able to be THAT strict once my “spending fast” is over, but he’s proof that people all over and doing well with less.

  2. Great idea. I bet you can learn a lot about yourself from this challenge :). I didn’t spend any money eating out in April. Had all my meals home cooked. Sometimes I would get offered food from friends at work when they see I don’t have a lunch. It really depends on what you’re comfortable with. I’m sure you’ll be able to save at least $150 on food if you tried your absolute hardest. One way I suppress my eating out urges is to think about the less fortunate people in poor countries. Works great! Anyway, like you mentioned, it’s about personal habits and values. Good luck [^_^] and keep us posted.

  3. Believe it or not, I cook almost all of my meals. Generally, my cooking is far better quality than at a restaurant; in my unhumble opinion.

    When eating out, I’ve done both things you’ve mention. Cutting out drinks and finding lower-cost menu items. One other thing that my family does is we share food with our daughter from our meals instead of buying a kid’s meal (those things are pricy).

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